Complete Story

Tumolo, Michael Warren, Jennifer Biedendorf, and Kevin J. Ayotte

Summer, Issue 44:2, pages 107-128

Un/civil Mourning: Remembering with Jacques Derrida

Abstract: The death of philosopher and public intellectual Jacques Derrida drew international attention and generated public acts of mourning in the media. Several of the published obituaries for Derrida are notable for their overtly hostile and dismissive tone. This essay explores the genre of epideictic rhetoric and is grounded in Derrida’s work on mourning, analyzing several instances of “uncivil” epideictic rhetoric including three hostile obituaries and several responses to them written by friends and colleagues of Derrida for the insight that they yield regarding ethical public remembrance. We argue that a sincere engagement with the ideas of the dead, while always incomplete, is at the heart of an ethical, civil mourning.

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